(Written for the "A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words" Livejournal Challenge)

He stood under a scrawny tree and stared at the dilapidated house across the street. The overcast of the morning had turned into an icy autumnal drizzle. The near-leafless tree offered him little protection; his dark hair was already drenched, and trails of chilling water made their way down his neck.

William Andrew Philip Bodie shrugged his collar up higher in a vain attempt to stave off the rain and tried to make a decision.

It wasn't much of a decision--knock on a door or walk away--but he was finding it far too difficult. After all, the man behind that door had already made his decision, had walked away from Bodie and CI5 both.

Bodie tried to move. Forward or backward, didn't matter. He just had to do something.

"Bugger this," he muttered under his breath, willing his feet to turn and leave this grotty street. But they wouldn't move and he was frozen here, uncertainty trapping him as it never had done before.

The decision was taken away from him when the door he'd been staring at so intently opened. Raymond Doyle stood at the threshold, arms crossed, a scowl on his face.

"Bodie, you Scouse git," Doyle shouted. "Are you coming in or are you just going to lurk outside and scare the neighbours?"

Faced down by his quarry, Bodie froze in place, getting wetter by the instant.

"C'mon, Bodie. Before someone calls the local plods on you."

That got him moving. If a bloody bobby ran him in for staking out a now-former CI5 operative, Cowley'd give him a right bollocking.

Bodie entered the little house, shaking the water from his hair once he was inside. His training made him examine the entrance hall closely, made him note the hooks holding Doyle's battered leather jacket, and the old-fashioned umbrella stand containing three even more old-fashioned umbrellas.

"Who owns this place?" Bodie asked, hanging up his own jacket beside Doyle's. "Your maiden aunt?"

"Sort of, yeah." Doyle threw a towel at him. Bodie caught it gratefully and began drying his soaking hair. "Belongs to an old friend of the family. She's off to France for a fortnight; said I could stay here till I'm sorted."

"She got any booze in?"

"Nah, but I do."

They settled in the lounge, each with a can of lager in his hand, wrapped in a stillness that was more tense than comfortable.

Bodie was the first to break the silence. "Why'd you do it?" he asked.

"Do what?"

"What do you think?"

"I don't know, Bodie. Why don't you spell it out?"

"Leave," Bodie roared, surprising himself at the volume of his response. "Why'd you leave?"

"How can you even ask that?" Doyle glared at Bodie, his eyes sparking with anger and fear and hate and all that emotion directed both inward and out. "You were there. You saw."

"I saw that you did what you had to. She was holding a gun on us." He swallowed hard and then corrected himself. "On me."

"She was a kid." The last word emerged from Doyle's throat as a strangled yelp. He took several deep breaths before he spoke again. "Seventeen years old, and I put a bullet in her head."

"She would have put a bullet in mine."

"Don't you think I know that?"

"Then, what's the problem?"

"I don't want to have to make that kind of decision. I don't want to have to choose between killing a kid and keeping you alive. I can't do it anymore."

"So instead you're going to leave me out on the streets by myself."

"Cowley'll give you another partner."

"I don't want another partner. I want you, Ray."

"Be careful what you're saying, sunshine. Someone might get the wrong idea."

"Maybe it's not the wrong idea," Bodie said, feeling the fire he'd banked for so long flare up within him. And he thought, why not? If not now, then when? "Maybe I fancy you."

"You? A ponce? Don't make me laugh, Bodie."

"Not a joke, Ray. Never a joke." He reached for Ray's shoulder, only to have his hand batted away before it could even make contact.

"Don't," Ray said, his eyes hardened and cold. "Just don't."

They sat frozen like that for a long minute, eyes locked, breath coming in audible gasps. Bodie felt all his hopes burn to cinders in the cold flame of Ray's eyes.

"This was a mistake," Bodie said softly. "I should leave." He rose to his feet, retrieved his jacket and opened the door. Through it all Doyle remained silent and unmoving. Bodie closed the door with a quiet snick and ventured back out into the rain. The sky was chucking it down worse than ever, and Bodie found himself soaked in moments.

He turned up the street toward where he'd left his car. He was nearly at the end of the block when he heard the slap of running feet behind. Stiffening his shoulders, he kept walking.

"Bodie!" His name emerged from Ray's throat as a hoarse croak, tinged with a surprising desperation. It was the desperation that brought Bodie up short, made him turn.

Raymond Doyle ran towards him, his untied trainers loose on his feet, his jacket nowhere to be seen and one of those ridiculously frilly umbrellas from the hall doing a not very good job of keeping the rain off him.

"Bodie, you bastard," Doyle said as he drew closer to him. Bodie opened his mouth to defend himself, but didn't have a chance. Before he could utter a word, Doyle had thrown the umbrella to the ground and wrapped his arms around Bodie. His mouth found Bodie's, lips opening to pull Bodie into a kiss that burned them both, in spite of the rain and the chill. Bodie held Doyle tight and returned the kiss fiercely.

Tomorrow he would worry about the future and what they would do and who'd seen them and what Cowley would say.

Tomorrow, but not today.

-- THE END --

January 2005

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